Alexa rankings are completely and utterly useless.
When I started this blog a year ago I was obsessed with my Alexa ranking – I was super-pleased when those magic numbers were getting smaller and I’d be utterly devastated when they went the other way.
Now, I don’t give a flying crap what they do – and I recommend you stop caring, too.
Welcome to the wonderful world of Alexa, where your website will be ranked on the basis of the amount of traffic it gets as well as its number of page views.
How does it measure traffic to your website? Primarily through the number of visitors to your website that have Alexa toolbars installed on their web browser. Who has these toolbars? At a guess, I’d say mostly bloggers and other people who run websites – probably not your average web surfer.
Alexa says itself on its help page:
“The traffic data are based on the set of toolbars that use Alexa data, which may not be a representative sample of the global Internet population. To the extent that our sample of users differs from the set of all Internet users, our traffic estimates may over- or under-estimate the actual traffic to any particular site.”
It goes on to say that a traffic ranking of 100,000 and above should be regarded as a rough estimate and the closer a website gets to number one, the more accurate its Alexa traffic ranking becomes.
So what’s the point in an Alexa ranking if it’s not accurate? Why does anyone care at all if their Alexa ranking goes up or down? A nice, small Alexa ranking would certainly be great to have, but at the end of the day surely it’s not going to mean that much.
My experience with Alexa rankings
Admittedly, it wasn’t until my Alexa ranking started to crash that I properly looked into this web information company and realised how bad its product really is.
For a long time my blog’s Alexa ranking was just getting better and better – and then one day it exploded. I wrote about the 30 nicest travellers to follow on Twitter in September 2012, which saw my ranking plummet from, say, 350,000 to roughly 199,000.
At that time I was getting roughly 100 visitors per day; that particular blog post received more than 300 visitors on its first day – along with more than 30 comments from my fellow travel bloggers, most of which probably have Alexa toolbars.
Fortunately, my blog has continued to grow since then – each month continues to be even better than the last (see my first year of travel blogging). I now get anywhere between 200 and 300 unique visits every day.
And yet my Alexa ranking is currently twice what it was at its best point, sitting around the 410,000 mark.
It seems that the most likely reason for the high Alexa number is that less travel bloggers are reading my blog than they did in September – but, at the same time, I’m getting much more traffic from people without Alexa toolbars installed on their browsers.
So let me ask you this: do you blog because you want your blogging colleagues and contemporaries to read your work? Or do you do it because you’re trying to reach as many people as possible?
I know which I’d rather. And that’s why I’m going to delete my Alexa toolbar right now.